©Colette Lewis 2009--
College Station, TX--
With rain stopping play for the day here in Aggieland, I can do the previously impossible--write about the doubles point.
Generally, I see very little doubles at an NCAA tournament. The first matches of the day, maybe, and in the finals, when there is only one match being played. Otherwise, I am invariably collecting comments from coaches and players from the just-completed match while the next two (or four) teams take the court, and then trying to write a brief story using some of that information. One post at the end of the day is an alternative, but one that frankly scares me when I think about it. Too much gets lost from the memory banks in these first few days, and all the teams that got here deserve recognition for their great seasons.
Anyway, today I settled in for the Southern California - Virginia contest's doubles point. Because Texas College Tennis was locked in on the Georgia-Texas quarterfinal, and providing tweets from there, I concentrated mainly on USC and Virginia, a No. 1 vs. No. 8 matchup that I expected to be so close that the doubles point would probably decide it. We'll have to wait until Sunday to see if I'm right about that (my record so far this tournament isn't anything to brag about), but the doubles point certainly couldn't have been any closer.
Virginia's No. 2 team of Sanam Singh and Houston Barrick were up an early break over Abdullah Magdas and Daniel Nguyen; the No. 1 and No. 3 courts were on serve. It was USC's Matt Kecki and Jaak Poldma at No. 3 who were the only team to hold on to their break when they got it, at 4-4, and they finished off Virginia's Drew Courtney and Lee Singer 8-5.
At No. 1, Virginia's Dom Inglot and Michael Shabaz got a break at 4-4 against USC's Robert Farah and Steve Johnson, gave it right back for 5-5, but at 6-6, converted on the second of their two break chances against Farah. Shabaz then served it out to make it 1-1.
Meanwhile, at No. 2 doubles, there were more changes of fortune. Up 4-2, Virginia lost four straight games, but USC couldn't hold on to their 6-4 lead. Serving at 7-7, it looked bleak for USC when Nguyen went down 0-40 on his serve. He and Magdas saved two of the break points, but Singh hit a perfect return winner to give Barrick a chance to serve it out. It was an exciting game, with one point featuring a net exchange of volleys that had to number 8 or 10, but Virginia never got to match point, with the break coming at 30-40.
In the tiebreaker, everything seemed to be going the Trojans' way and they took a 5-0 lead. But given the history of the match, it probably won't surprise you to hear that Virginia won five of the next six points, and suddenly it was 6-5. Nguyen's first serve did the trick however, and USC had a lead that would last a lot longer than anyone could have anticipated.
Saturday, May 16, 2009